With the Associated Press Top 25 poll released this morning, Arizona has achieved a feat no other No. 1 team has accomplished for the Wildcats: Seven consecutive weeks on top.
Arizona went 10 years without a No. 1 ranking from the 2003-04 season to last year’s 2012-13 campaign. Now, the Wildcats can build the streak to eight straight weeks with victories over Colorado and Utah this week at McKale Center.
Colorado and Utah present a good challenge. The Buffaloes showed signs of life without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie, out the rest of the season with a knee injury, by routing USC 83-62 at home Saturday. Utah, the surprise team of the Pac-12 to this point at 14-4, upset UCLA 74-69 in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
The Utes, however, are 0-3 on the road this season, including a loss against struggling Washington State.
With Colorado having to adjust to Dinwiddie gone and Utah’s road troubles, Arizona’s No. 1 ranking might not get seriously challenged until the following weekend in the Bay area. If Arizona wins at Stanford and Cal — the hottest team in the league other than Arizona — the Wildcats will be around the No. 1 spot for quite some time.
Stanford nearly beat Michigan on a neutral court and defeated Connecticut on the road earlier this season. California is a serious threat, mirroring Arizona’s cohesive play, ranking 21st nationally in assists (16.2 a game) and shooting an efficient 47.5 percent from the field.
Five Golden Bears average double-digit scoring, led by Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Justin Cobbs, who is averaging 14.9 points a game. And, of course, Cal is coached by Arizona nemesis Mike Montgomery.
First things first, Colorado, is next on the schedule Thursday. And the priority over that game is the preparation leading up to it.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has taken a page out of the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban book of coaching. They talk about the process and working on team-specific challenges more so than concerning themselves with what the opponent may present.
CONSECUTIVE WEEKS No. 1
Weeks Season Coach 7 2013-14 Sean Miller 6 2002-03 Lute Olson 5 2002-03 Lute Olson 4 1987-88 Lute Olson 3 1988-89 Lute Olson 3 1997-98 Lute Olson 3 2000-01 Lute Olson
ARIZONA 2013-14 AP RANKINGS
Week Date Rank W-L Pre Oct. 31 No. 6 0-0 1 Nov. 11 No. 6 1-0 2 Nov. 18 No. 5 3-0 3 Nov. 25 No. 4 5-0 4 Dec. 2 No. 2 7-0 5 Dec. 9 No. 1 9-0 6 Dec. 16 No. 1 11-0 7 Dec. 23 No. 1 12-0 8 Dec. 30 No. 1 13-0 9 Jan. 6 No. 1 15-0 8 Jan. 13 No. 1 17-0 9 Jan. 20 No. 1 18-0
''No doubt about it, we have a group of guys that plays with a lot of energy, a lot of effort and we share the ball,'' -Sean Miller
Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley wrote Saturday that Miller belongs among the five elite coaches in college basketball. Lute Olson, during his hey day, had a similar distinction with Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski.
“With an 18-0 start in 2013-14, Miller has affirmed his status as one of the game’s top five coaches, along with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Kansas’ Bill Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari,” Bickley writes. “… Miller is a hard-nosed, sharp-tongued, son-of-a-coach from Beaver Falls, Pa. He’s intense and relentless. Like Krzyzewski, he has a great touch and reputation among players.”
Miller’s lofty classification among the elite by Bickley should come as no surprise.
Since Olson started the rebirth of Arizona basketball in 1983-84, the Wildcats are among the five best programs when it comes to the number of Top 5 rankings in the AP poll. The top five in that span: Duke (287 appearances in the top 5), Kansas (243), North Carolina (238), Kentucky (171) and Arizona (125).
Feel great to beat your rival and join elite company all in the same day. Thanks to everyone for all the support! #BearDown
WEEKS AT NO. 1
Weeks School Conf 134 UCLA Pac-12 127 Duke ACC 111 North Carolina ACC 93 Kentucky SEC 57 Kansas Big 12 54 Indiana Big Ten 45 Cincinnati American 37 Ohio State Big Ten 36 Arizona Pac-12 32 UNLV Mountain West
ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM
Season Rec. Pct. 1987-88 December 21-January 3 3-1 .750 January 11-February 7 6-1 .857 1988-89 February 6-February 12 1-1 .500 February 27-March 13 5-0 1.000 1997-98 Preseason-November 30 4-1 .800 2000-01 Preseason-November 26 3-1 .750 2002-03 Preseason-December 22 5-1 .833 January 20-February 2 3-1 .750 February 10-March 16 7-1 .875 2013-14 December 9-January 26 9-0 1.000 TOTAL 46-8 .852